Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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April 24, 2008 -- Number 13, Volume 8

INTERNATIONAL RESPECT FOR CHICKENS DAY - May 4, 2008 http://tinyurl.com/3dxawz


1. INDUSTRY CALLS FOR BAN OF NONAMBULATORY CATTLE

“[F]or the life of me, I cannot understand why the industry won't support a no-downer policy,” wrote Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), in a commentary in the April issue of Meatingplace, a meat trade magazine.  He continued: “If USDA vets approve a few thousand downers for slaughter under this current system - bringing a pittance in profits - is that really worth the risks? With the economic impact of the Hallmark investigation [see: http://tinyurl.com/563qae ] moving toward $1 billion, we have another example of penny-wise, pound-foolish behavior.” On April 22nd, the American Meat Institute (AMI), the National Meat Association (NMA) and the National Milk Producers Federation announced their petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling for a ban on non-ambulatory cattle in the meat supply (petition at PDF: http://tinyurl.com/62e59c ). Previously, both industry and the USDA had opposed changing the current limited ban. In February, HSUS filed suit against the USDA for having enacted the limitation last year (see: http://tinyurl.com/6486l3 ). Some legislators are also pressuring the Department for a total ban. AMI and NMA are urging companies to voluntarily withhold non-ambulatory cattle until the USDA changes the rule. Some critics say industry only called for the ban due to demands by foreign trading partners (see item #2).

AMI has also announced the launch of the Meat News Network, a channel on the You Tube website “where accurate videos –including some that represent typical conditions in meat plants—will be posted”:  http://www.YouTube.com/meatnewsnetwork


INTO THE BREACH
Meatingplace, The View, Wayne Pacelle, April 2008
http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/archives/details.aspx?item=3537

IN CHANGE, INDUSTRY GROUPS BACK DOWNER COW BAN
Associated Press, Erica Werner, April 22, 2008
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5ib5V7z9A-ocCTOvoaRCq9Ohbl9SAD907840O0

U.S. MEAT INDUSTRY AMONG THE MOST TRANSPARENT: A.M.I.
Meat & Poultry, Bryan Salvage, April 18, 2008
http://www.meatpoultry.com/news/daily_enews.asp?ArticleID=92862

 

2. U.S. ANNOUNCES NEW FEED BAN RESTRICTIONS

Last week, South Korea announced it would gradually accept U.S. beef imports as the U.S. government strengthens food safety standards. It is a market estimated to eventually be worth up to $1 billion a year. On April 23rd, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a feed ban on the use of cattle tissues believed to pose the greatest risk of spreading “mad cow disease.” The tissues are from cattle age 30 months and older. The ban will apply to all animal feeds and becomes effective on April 23, 2009. The main U.S. safeguards against the disease are feed prohibitions and other restrictions on high-risk materials, and the ban on the slaughter of non-ambulatory cattle (see item #1 and  http://tinyurl.com/5delwr ).


FDA BANS CERTAIN CATTLE PARTS FROM ALL ANIMAL FEED
Reuters, Christopher Doering with David Gregorio, April 23, 2008
http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSN2344375420080423

 

3. CA. INITIATIVE MAKES BALLOT; CO. HOUSE PASSES BILL

California voters will get to vote this November on The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. The Act would, as of 2015, ban battery cages, pig gestation crates, and crates for calves used for veal (see: http://tinyurl.com/5pk7hm ). The measure required 434,000 valid signatures in order to be certified. Of the 782,507 signatures submitted, 536,605 were deemed valid. The initiative could affect an estimated 20 million farmed animals, mostly chickens. Feedstuffs, an industry publication, reports that the only major pig-breeding operation in California is ceasing to breed pigs there (see also: http://snipurl.com/253g3 ) and that calves are not being raised for veal in California. Last year, the American Veal Association announced a resolution to transition nationwide to group housing by the end of 2017 (see: http://tinyurl.com/6lrn7c ). Exceptions to the Act include animals used in scientific or agricultural research, and during: transportation; veterinary exams, testing or treatment; the week prior to a pig's expected date of giving birth; rodeo, state or county fair exhibitions and 4-H programs.

The Colorado bill to ban crates for pregnant pigs and for calves used for veal awaits the governor’s signature, having been passed by the state House of Representatives (see: http://tinyurl.com/5pk7hm ). The bill was drafted by the state Department of Agriculture as part of an agreement with the Humane Society of the U.S. to avert a ballot campaign. Agricultural groups, including the Colorado Pork Producers Council, have agreed to support the bill. In December, it was announced that pig farmers in the state would voluntarily change to larger pens. There are an estimated 155,000 female pigs used for breeding purposes in Colorado and some 750 pig farmers. (Reportedly no calves are being raised for veal in the state.) If the governor signs the bill, as he is expected to do, Colorado will join Arizona, Florida and Oregon in banning gestation crates for pigs. Arizona has also banned veal crates for calves.


EXPENSIVE CAMPAIGN BREWING IN CALIFORNIA
Feedstuffs Foodlink, March 8, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/2z94j3

FARM INITIATIVE QUALIFIES FOR BALLOT
The Los Angeles Times (blog), Francisco Vara-Orta, April 11, 2008
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2008/04/farm-initiative.html

BILL PROTECTING FARM ANIMALS GOES TO RITTER
The Durango Herald, Joe Hanel, April 8, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/6o6vhc

HOG COMPANIES AGREE TO CHANGE
The Pueblo Chieftain Online, Anthony A. Mestas, April 18, 2008
http://www.chieftain.com/business/1208498400/3

 

4. CONFINEMENT PRODUCTION; “NATURALLY RAISED” LABEL

A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report tells that industrial farmed animal production has grown at twice the rate of traditional forms of animal production, led by growth in China, Brazil, and India. However, “companies around the world are adjusting their farm-animal confinement policies… largely in response to U.S. voter-led initiatives and the implementation of farm policy reforms in the European Union,” states a WorldWatch article entitled “More Companies Discontinuing Farm Animal Confinement.”

See also:
UNILEVER AND MCDONALDS CHANGE TO FREE-RANGE EGGS
http://tinyurl.com/6yl7zb
GESTATION STALLS ARE ON THEIR WAY OUT; SO NOW WHAT?
http://tinyurl.com/66rpoo
HUMANE SOCIETY PROBES PUT PRESSURE ON FIRMS
http://tinyurl.com/6xn8xb

In response to requests from the meat industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a “naturally raised” label. The proposed label would indicate that products were derived from animals who had received no antibiotics or synthetic hormones and were fed no animal by-products. Critics argue that animals kept in conventional confinement systems could still qualify for the label. The proposed label has generated 44,000 comments, mostly negative. A decision on it is expected from the USDA by August 1st.

MORE COMPANIES DISCONTINUING FARM ANIMAL CONFINEMENT
WorldWatch, Ben Block, April 7, 2008
http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5689

OUTRAGE HITS 'NATURALLY RAISED' USDA MEAT LABELING PLAN
The Des Moines Register, Philip Brasher, March 22, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/6gl7ex

 

5. CHANGES IN THE U.S. PIG INDUSTRY

“Today’s hog sector bears little resemblance to the one that existed 15 years ago. There are fewer hog farms, and the average number of hogs per farm has increased substantially,” reports the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Technological innovation and shifts to larger, more specialized hog operations have led to increases in productivity, reduced production costs, and lower hog prices,” the subtitle states. ERS based its findings on surveys of the pig industry that documented changes between 1992 and 2004. While the number of farms with pigs dropped over 70% (from more than 240,000 to fewer than 70,000), the number of pigs remained at about 60 million. The size of the average pig operation increased from 945 pigs to 4,646 pigs.

Changes in the industry structure were attributed to economic competition for increased productivity and lower production costs. This was driven in part by technological innovations in genetics, nutrition, housing and handling equipment, veterinary services, and management. Scale of production and technology were each said to account for about half of the increase in farm productivity. The article concludes that continued pressure from these two factors “suggests that new research and the adoption of more efficient methods of hog production will prolong the sector’s productivity gains into the foreseeable future.” It includes a link to the report and to two other publications of related interest. ERS also makes available a quarterly report, HOGS AND PIGS: http://tinyurl.com/4zuvfu

See also: ANIMAL WELL-BEING: WHO DECIDES RESPONSIBILITY?
http://www.porkmag.com/responsiblepork.asp?ts=rpawb&pgID=780&ed_id=5939

TECHNOLOGY, LARGER FARM SIZE INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY ON U.S. HOG FARMS
Amber Waves, Nigel Key and William D. McBride, April 2008
http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/April08/Features/USHogFarms.htm

 

6. MANUFACTURED MEAT

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has announced a $1 million prize to the "first person to come up with a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012." (Background info on cultured meat at: http://tinyurl.com/5dlbcz and http://tinyurl.com/2ub3dd ) The Netherlands have already invested $5 million in in-vitro meat studies. An international symposium, the first on the topic, was held earlier this month in Norway. New Harvest, a nonprofit organization promoting the technology, explains: "Because meat substitutes are produced under controlled conditions impossible to maintain in traditional animal farms, they can be safer, more nutritious, less polluting and more humane than conventional meat." An independent analysis found that such a product could be economically competitive with conventional meat (PDF: [http://tinyurl.com/5kyjd6 ]). A New Harvest spokesperson said it should also have a similar taste, and he estimates that large-scale production could be ready in 5 to 10 years.

“…a drumstick grown in a jar feels no pain, but will bizarrely inspire the same disgust as one grown on a poor debeaked hen that lives its whole life in agony,” opined Graeme Wood in The Atlantic, “PETA's acceptance (subsidy, even) of meat-eating in these so-far hypothetical, futuristic circumstances signals a re-emphasis on what should be the core mission of the group, which is alleviating the needless suffering of animals in whatever way possible.” In contrast, a New York Times editorial stated: “We are disgusted by the conventional meat industry in this country, which raises animals — especially chicken and pigs — in inhumane confinement systems that cause significant environmental damage...But the result of the technology that PETA hopes to reward could be the end of domesticated farm animals…We prefer a more measured approach. Ensure the least possible cruelty to animals, by all means, and raise them in ways that are both ethical and environmentally sound. But also treasure the cultural and historical bond between humans and domesticated animals. Historically speaking, they exist only because of the uses we have found for them, and preserving their existence means, in most cases, preserving the uses we have made for them.” [Farmed animals would continue to exist in flocks and herds kept for companionship purposes. They have also very successfully transitioned to a feral state.]

$1 MILLION FOR FAKE MEAT
The New York Times, John Schwartz, April 20, 2008
http://www.denverpost.com/technology/ci_8994923

TEST TUBE MEAT?
The Village Voice, Sarah DiGregorio, April 15, 2008
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/archives/2008/04/test_tube_meat_1.php

SCIENTISTS FLESH OUT PLANS TO GROW (AND SELL) TEST TUBE MEAT
Wired, Alexis Madrigal, April 11, 2008
http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/04/invitro_meat

STEAK WITHOUT COW
The Atlantic, Graeme Wood, April 21, 2008
http://thecurrent.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/04/peta.php

MILLION-DOLLAR MEAT
The New York Times, Editorial, April 23, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5horat

 

7. SAVING A FEW BISON; THE BRUCELLOSIS “MYTH”

Breaking an eight-year impasse, an agreement has been reached to allow 25 bison to move through a private ranch bordering Yellowstone National Park, enabling them to escape slaughter (see: http://tinyurl.com/5acyrp ). The ranch owners said they will not sign the deal until they receive $2.8 million they are owed. Montana officials said that will probably happen this autumn. Bison advocates said it is too little too late. Ranchers expressed skepticism that it would effectively address brucellosis.

“Brucellosis is essentially a political myth,” states The New York Times in an April 18th editorial. It notes that every winter some 22,000 Yellowstone elk are kept from their natural range, which are instead reserved for cattle grazing. While brucellosis is the stated reason for keeping them away, the real reason is that the range cannot support both cattle and elk, the editorial explains. “The trouble now is that a far more serious and inevitably fatal disease, called chronic wasting disease, is approaching the elk feed grounds — where it could be catastrophic,” it warns. (CWD is an incurable disease. See item #3: http://tinyurl.com/698w8h ) “The best hope is to close the winter feed grounds and allow elk herds to resume more natural migration patterns,” the Times opines.

YELLOWSTONE BISON DEAL OPENS LAND
The Associated Press, April 18, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/6ljsu8

THE SORRY MYTH OF BRUCELLOSIS
The New York Times, Editorial, April 18, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/18/opinion/18fri4.html?ref=opinion

 

8. STOCKYARD SLIDESHOW

The South ST. Paul Stockyards, mentioned in the last issue (http://tinyurl.com/6hqrr9 ), was the subject of a New York Times article and slideshow. It notes: “…a stockyard brochure commemorating the end of this era [states]: `If the 300 million head of livestock that came to the South St. Paul Stockyards since its opening in 1887 were placed head-to-tail, they would form a line 248,560 miles long that would extend around the earth at the equator more than 10 times.’”

SILENCE REPLACES BIDS AND MOOS AT STOCKYARDS IN SUBURBS
The New York Times, Dan Barry, April 14, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/us/14land.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&oref=slogin


 





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Compiled and edited by Mary Finelli, Farmed Animal Watch is a free weekly electronic news digest of information concerning farmed animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and mainstream media sources.